Sep 10, 2012

Hoyapreneurs Unite!

A few months ago, The Hoyapreneur, the e-newsletter for Georgetown University's Entrepreneurship Initiative, asked me for feedback about my experience as an entrepreneur.  While I was flattered to be asked, I was also confounded about how to sum up my experiences for a short Alumni Focus piece.  Regardless, the article appeared in the September 2012 Issue, and I have included the article in its entirety below.  Special thanks to Hoyapreneur Editor, Elizabeth Schieffelin, and to Jeff Reid, the director of the GT Entrepreneurship Initiative.  You can find them on twitter @hoyapreneur.

By Peter Gasca

Peter graduated from the McDonough School of Business MBA program in 2003. He is the CEO of Wild Creations.
My years in the MBA program at Georgetown taught me many things to prepare me for my entrepreneurial experience. The 4 P’s (plus the bonus two from Professor Homa), 3 C’s, and numerous quadrants upon which to form a thriving and successful business were but to name a few.
After school, I endeavored into business consulting with the USAID Enterprise Development Project in Central Asia in order to refine my new skills and put them into practical use working with small- and medium-sized businesses making the transition from communism to a market economy. Indeed, the experience was incredible, and after four years of working with business owners and managers, I felt it was time to break out and finally put these skills to use myself.
I settled in Myrtle Beach, S.C., after finding a small but interesting company to acquire and manage, called Wild Creations. The company made a very interesting product, a desktop ecosystem habitat with frogs (which we subsequently called the “EcoAquarium”). Not exactly alternative energy or a cure for cancer, but after meeting with the former proprietors and thoroughly vetting the company, I had a strong suspicion that the product could be a fun and educational hit if we could just overcome a couple of major obstacles, mainly scaling and distribution. Big challenges, indeed, but that’s why I went to business school, right? I invested with a business partner, and we set out to grow the business.
In the first week, one of our water tanks flooded the warehouse and the adjacent office of our less-than-amenable next door neighbor. Unfortunately, I hadn’t exactly budgeted for this little, and very expensive mishap. A few months later, Lehman Brothers collapsed and so did all lines of credit. I was instantly thrust into the entrepreneurial reality that nothing goes as planned. All of the quadrants and handy acronyms from business school went out the door, and so began many years of “winging it.”
That’s not to say that my experience at Georgetown and my MBA weren’t worth the time, tuition and opportunity cost. On the contrary, I owe our success at Wild Creations (2010 #1 Fastest Growing Company in South Carolina and 2011 Inc500’s #259 fastest growing U.S. private company) to my experience at Georgetown. I have applied seemingly every lesson from business school to the business, and I have tapped the incredible network of classmates and alumni numerous times. Indeed, the only thing I discovered on my own, and quite truthfully is not teachable in business school, is a personal passion, perseverance, and courage to succeed.
Unlike most entrepreneurs, who are shining examples of all three of these traits, I didn’t know I had them in me until it was time for me to dig deep and find them. Indeed, what I have learned over the years, after meeting numerous other successful business owners and professionals, is that most aspiring entrepreneurs have these traits to succeed, but they fail to ever realize them, because they fail to try. It’s a shame really, because so many great ideas are never realized because of the fear of failure or the inclination to give up.
This is what I take away from my early experiences with entrepreneurship, and it is what I commonly preach to young aspiring entrepreneurs through mentoring. Of course, I give it in a smaller bite size as summed up in my personal motto: Try, or die not knowing. And, since you are reading this, you are already well on your way to succeed. Now, get out there and make your entrepreneurial dreams come true!